Penina Levine Is a Hard-Boiled Egg

( 1 )

Overview

“She still hasn’t gotten over that Easter Bunny letter,” said Zozo.

“So what?” said Penina. “If my parents want me to go to Peekskill, what can Ms. Anderson do? Kidnap me?”

“No,” said Zozo. “She can’t kidnap you, but she can flunk you.”

Penina Levine has a bossy best friend, a tattletale sister, crazy parents, and a big, fat zero on her school assignment to write a letter as the Easter Bunny. It was a stupid ...

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Overview

“She still hasn’t gotten over that Easter Bunny letter,” said Zozo.

“So what?” said Penina. “If my parents want me to go to Peekskill, what can Ms. Anderson do? Kidnap me?”

“No,” said Zozo. “She can’t kidnap you, but she can flunk you.”

Penina Levine has a bossy best friend, a tattletale sister, crazy parents, and a big, fat zero on her school assignment to write a letter as the Easter Bunny. It was a stupid assignment, completely impossible, totally unfair. Penina’s never going to do it—not ever—and it’s no use telling her parents about it. They never listen to her anyway. But Penina’s grandmother does. Grandma doesn’t think Penina should do the assignment. It’s a matter of principle. It’s a matter of strength. It’s a matter of five thousand years of history and a couple dozen hard-boiled eggs.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A thoughtful and often funny novel that should appeal to the world’s many Peninas.”—Booklist

 

“Well-crafted multiple themes are integrated into a captivating, realistic middle-grade novel where conflicts are addresses, if not resolved, in pragmatic and convincing scenarios.”—Kirkus Reviews

 

“Like an older Amber Brown, Penina is a feisty and thoroughly enjoyable heroine with whom readers will easily connect. O’Connell’s artful weaving of Jewish traditions and history throughout the novel make it all the richer, and the occasional illustrations complement the dynamic humor.”—School Library Journal

 

“Careful explanations of Passover traditions ensure that gentile readers won’t get left behind, and youngsters in general will sympathize with a kid who stands up for herself when she’s wronged.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
A sixth grade assignment to inscribe cards to kindergarteners in the persona of the Easter Bunny misfires, launching this story. When the task makes her feel uncomfortable, Penina, who is Jewish, tries to assert herself, but the teacher won't yield. Penina navigates the treacherous waters of cultural identity and eventually learns to build the bridges she needs with her grandmother's support, and without compromising her principles. Penina's motives are understandable, and her actions quite touching. Grandma is wonderfully funny, and the running low-level conflict between Penina and her sister Mimsy will resonate with many middle-graders who have to cope with younger siblings. O'Connell weaves in dabs of historical and cultural significance. In doing so, she includes both refreshing insights and charming idiosyncrasies, such as Grandma's memories of Seders that involved both religious ceremony and the singing of labor songs. Ms. Anderson, however, seems excessively insensitive and inept, even for a new teacher. Both her action in establishing the story's premise, and Penina's eventual overstepping of boundaries in confronting her seem overly purposeful, and too convenient to the author's intent. Arguably one can find culturally and pedagogically blinkered teachers, even today. Still, this logical truth doesn't quite make the required translation into fictional truth.
School Library Journal

Gr 4–6
Penina Levine's new teacher has given an assignment to send cards as the Easter Bunny to kindergartners at a neighboring school, and the sixth grader is uncomfortable with it because she is Jewish. When she tries to fulfill the spirit of the task without compromising her beliefs, Ms. Anderson shows a remarkable lack of sensitivity and gives her a zero. Feeling that her parents won't understand, Penina keeps the issue to herself, but she finally confides in Grandma, who is both appalled at the teacher and proud of her "hard-boiled egg": her granddaughter who gets tougher when the heat is turned on. As soon as Penina's parents are made aware of the problem, calls are made to the principal, and the teacher quickly gets a lesson in appreciating diversity. Penina is afraid that Ms. Anderson will be angry with her, but the two come to respect one another. While the idea of a young teacher being so culturally obtuse in the 21st century stretches credibility, the story moves along at an entertaining pace. Like an older Amber Brown, Penina is a feisty and thoroughly enjoyable heroine with whom readers will easily connect. O'Connell's artful weaving of Jewish traditions and history throughout the novel makes it all the richer, and the occasional illustrations complement the dynamic humor.
—Kim DareCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312550264
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 3/3/2009
  • Edition description: STRIPPABLE
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,260,068
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 650L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Rebecca O’Connell is the author of The Baby Goes Beep and, as Rebecca Tova Ben-Zvi, of Four Sides, Eight Nights: A New Spin on Hanukkah. She is a children’s librarian with 14 years of story-hour experience.

Majella Lue Sue, born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, received a BFA in Illustration, with honors, from the Art Center of Design in Pasadena, in 2005. This is Ms. Lue Sue’s first book.

O’Connell and Lue Sue will collaborate on Penina Levine Is a Potato Pancake for Fall 2008.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2008

    A reviewer

    Named a Sydney Taylor Nobable Book for Older Readers 2008 The Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee of the Association of Jewish Libraries honors new books for children and teens that exemplify the highest literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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